President Trump's pledge to shrink Bears Ears has caused an uproar from Native American tribes. Now the Navajo Nation is taking extreme action against the administration.
The United States of America has irrefutably been built on a foundation that antagonized, manipulated, and abused the Native American populations of the land.
Native Americans were systematically stripped of their land and culture through ‘peace treaties' and force. Once the dust settled and the United States was well established, the Native people were tragically left with a minute fraction of their land.
These populations have had to fight to preserve their remaining land and continue to hold rights to that land. In the past year, the Native lands have been threatened by American politics.
A notable case is the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which would extend through Lake Oahe on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian reservation. The sheer size of the pipeline threatens the lake with risks of oil spills and contamination that would diminish the supply of drinking water and potentially harm sacred sites.
Despite these risks, President Trump has signed an executive order that allows for the advancement of construction of the pipeline.
What's Happening Now:
President Donald Trump announced a scaling-back for Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah on Monday.
The Navajo Nation and four other American Indian tribes (namely the Hopi Tribe, Zuni Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe) responded immediately. On Tuesday, they had launched legal action against the Trump administration, suing President Trump in order to undo his actions of reducing the Bears Ears National Monument.
“They declared war on us today,” said Shaun Chapoose, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee.
“Through the Antiquities Act, Congress delegated to the president the limited authority to designate national monuments and retained to itself the power to revoke or modify national monuments,” the tribes wrote in a statement about the case.
With the lawsuit, the tribes defended the monument by arguing that President Trump did not actually have the authority to remove more than 80 percent of the land protections that former President Obama had put in place back in 2016.
The tribes went further and claimed that “the proclamation signed by President Trump [on Monday] is so extreme that it revokes and replaces Bears Ears and thereby violates the Antiquities Act and seizes authority that the Constitution vests solely in Congress.”
There exists some ambiguity. While the supporters of Bears Ears say that the Antiquities Act does not address recisions, making Trump's actions illegal, the opposition claims that the ability to undo monument designations is a subtly included in the Antiquities Act, mostly on the basis that because presidents have the ability to create, they should also diminish.
Unfortunately, the protection of this religious and historically valuable land has been consistently under tension, as Republicans and local Utah leaders have opposed the protection of the land.
The reduction of Bears Ears was also paired with a reduction in the acreage of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is also in southern Utah. Environmental groups have sprung to action on that front, also seeking legal action against Trump.
H/T: The Hill